Tommy Fleetwood insisted he enjoyed his first experience of contending over a major championship weekend despite coming up short at the US Open.
Fleetwood went into the final round at Erin Hills just one shot off the lead, but he failed to build on an early birdie at the second as bogeys at the third, sixth and eighth holes left him four shots off the pace.
The Englishman battled back with a birdie at nine, but his final birdie at the 14th proved irrelevant as playing partner Brooks Koepka pulled away from the field with three straight gains on the back nine to win by four strokes on 16 under.
Fleetwood holed a great putt for par at the last to secure outright fourth on 11 under, and he said: “I’ve never contended for a major before, so when you get to Saturday and Sunday, you’ve got to see how you react and how you feel.
“I felt yesterday I played great, but today my game wasn’t quite there although I still got it round in level par. I scrapped a little bit for it, and it was a bit soft, but I felt fine. I felt comfortable, I enjoyed playing late on Saturday and Sunday, and then next time, whenever that comes, I’ll play well enough to get myself in contention.”
Fleetwood was flying high in the putting statistics over the week, and he attributed that to some hard work in practice with renowned putting coach Phil Kenyon.
“I’ve been working on it recently,” he added. “I had a couple of weeks where I putted poorly. I wasn’t quite reading greens very well, but my stroke is generally fine. And sometimes when you’re not seeing the ball go in the hole, it gets harder and it’s easy to lose faith a little bit. But I’ve been working on it very hard.
“Phil Kenyon is my putting coach, he’s meticulous in his preparation, and he makes a massive difference with how he prepares on the greens and everything. I feel like I’ve been stroking it well for a while, but just not getting it in the hole, which is the key ingredient, really, when you’re putting. And this week I felt good on the greens.”
Fleetwood also paid tribute to Koepka, who he partnered for both the third and fourth rounds, adding: “Down the stretch he was brilliant. He played great early on and he wasn’t missing shots, and he holed a par putt on 13 which was a great putt.
“He played a fantastic bunker shot on 14, and the second shot he hit on 15 was the best shot I thought he hit all day. He just cruised and he played great. It was very good to watch.”